See shells: Maarten Baas captures the beauty of carapaces in furniture form

See shells: Maarten Baas captures the beauty of carapaces in furniture form

On the heels of its recent opening in New York, Carpenters Workshop has launched its first solo show, which turns the spotlight on the Dutch designer Maarten Baas. For this new, exclusive collection, called ‘Carapace’, Baas imagined furniture made with shell-like armour, inspired by the carapace (the protective shells of animals, like beetles and turtles) found in nature. 

He made the surfaces of each piece as a kind of metal quilt, piecing together a patchwork of small, patinated bronze and steel panels. The dot-welding process he used to join the pieces together leaves a pattern of welded stitches, animating the surface of these objects. The six-piece collection consists of two armchairs, three different types of cabinets, and a desk. Each component of the collection will run as a limited series of eight, plus the artist’s proof. For the insides of the cabinets and desk, Baas used European walnut, with meticulously crafted carpentry.

For the ever-pensive Baas, there is an element of autobiography in the collection. ‘The process reflects my own state,’ he says, describing the reclusiveness of his studio space, tucked away in the Dutch countryside. ‘I was hidden from the outside world while I made this collection.’

Even though it may be introspective, it’s ultimately optimistic. ‘It hides something under which something else can grow,’ Baas reflects. ‘It feels very protective.’ As a case-in-point, he draws attention to a secret drawer hidden within the desk, accessed with a discreet turn of a latch.

On the upper floor, the gallery maintains a group show, which happens to include several pieces by Baas from other collections, including the new ‘Self Portrait Clock’ and a piano from his seminal ‘Where There’s Smoke’ collection.

‘Carapace’, on view through 30 April, has been long in the making, with Carpenters giving the designer the time to fully develop this technique. ‘It’s nice to put so much effort into each piece,’ says Baas. ‘We made no concessions.’

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